Having a baby is so exciting, but it also comes with its challenges. It’s definitely tough in the early days when you’re exhausted, but don’t worry, this phase won’t last. As a newborn photographer in the Philadelphia, PA area (and a mom to four!), I have spent many hours getting babies to sleep. Below are some baby sleep tips that have been proven to help in the studio during newborn sessions and can help you at home too.
Read your baby’s drowsy signs and place them in their crib at the first sign of sleepiness. If you wait too long, your infant can become overtired. Being overtired makes it difficult for your baby to fall asleep and stay asleep. When your little one is still, quiet, and staring off into space, it is time to put them to bed.
You want to make sure their space is similar to a womb-like environment – blackout shades and a white-noise machine are great places to start. The white noise machine should muffle any voices that are coming from outside the room, but not drown them out completely.
This is the first piece of advice most new parents receive when trying to get their baby to sleep. Even if they do not like it at first, try it again and see if anything changes. Sleep changes so quickly in those early weeks. It is definitely worth a try, as long as your baby is still too young to roll over.
Sleeping in a cool room is where most people get their best sleep, especially babies. Aim to keep your thermostat between 68 and 72 degrees Fahrenheit to make the room the most comfortable for the baby. If you put your hand on your baby’s chest and it is warm, then they are warm enough.
Hunting for new diapers and crib sheets is miserable in the middle of the night, and turning on the lights can fully wake your baby up. If this happens, it can take forever to get them back to sleep. Double layer using a regular crib sheet and a disposable waterproof pad with a sheet on top. That way, you can just peel away the top layer and pad and toss the waterproof pad. Keep diapers and an extra onesie nearby so you don’t have to go digging through drawers every time your baby’s diaper leaks.
Babies often cry in the middle of the night because they are hungry or wet, which is understandable. However, waking in the middle of the night because they can’t find their pacifier can be frustrating for everyone. Try placing a couple of pacifiers in one corner of the crib, and every time they lose one, help them reach for it themselves by bringing their hand to that corner. This shows them where the pacifiers are and will make it easy for them to quickly go back to sleep. It should take them about a week to figure out this trick.
The safest place for a baby to sleep is on their back in their crib. However, many babies under 6 months do not nap best there, so don’t worry if they fall asleep on your chest, in a car seat, or baby carrier. You are not impacting your nighttime sleep by letting naps be a little more sporadic in the first few months. Most babies do not start developing a nap schedule until they are 5 or 6 months old, and some nappers will put up a fight while others will be more flexible.
Consistency is key! The order is up to you, but most parents usually involve a bath, a story, and one last feeding before bed. Throwing in a quick massage with some lotion can also be a great way to calm your baby down before bedtime.
Every baby is different. Listening to others talk about how well their babies sleep can be stressful. Tune out the unhelpful comparisons as much as possible. To figure out how best to solve your own baby’s sleep problems, you will need some observation, some trial and error, and a lot of patience. Just because your baby is having a rough time sleeping now does not mean they will continue to be that way, this is constantly changing. Patience and being persistent are the keys to getting more sleep for the baby and for yourself.
With everything, this too shall pass, and you will be catching some Z’s in no time!
As a professional newborn photographer, I ADORE photographing newborns and infants. Let’s chat about a photography session for your little one!